Why do we celebrate Winter Festival?
Winter is the darkest season. But the darkness of winter draws our attention to light. At Winter Festival we celebrate the light that each of us brings to our family, our classrooms, our school and our community.
Winter is the darkest season. Winter is also the coldest season. But the coldness of winter draws attention to the warmth in our hearts. With this warmth, each of us has the power to thaw bigotry, intolerance and ignorance. At Winter Festival we celebrate the love inside each of us.
As Maria Montessori said, “Love is the most potent.” Love is the most powerful.
And just as the song goes, “As long as you love me so, Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”
The Montessori approach to educating children is based on what we understand about children’s cognitive, neurological, and emotional development as shown to us through years of research. Some of the key aspects of our program include:
- Montessori is focused on teaching for understanding. The Montessori materials give the child concrete sensorial impressions of abstract concepts.
- The approach promotes organization and focus as being just as important as the academics.
- The mentor/mentee is a critical feature. The mixed-age class allows older children to be leaders and teach the younger children.
- In Montessori schools, children from different neighborhoods who share common values have come together to create the school community. Children who grow up in a Montessori environment often speak of close-knit relationships with classmates and their families.
- Montessori supports personalized learning. Children learn at-their-own pace without unhealthy stress or artificial competition. The child can move as slowly or quickly as needed to understand a concept.
- Montessori students study other cultures creating the foundation for global citizenship.
- Children are treated with a deep respect as unique individuals. The school is keenly focused on the child’s intellectual, social, and emotional development.
- Montessori teaches kindness, peacefulness, grace, and courtesy.
- Montessori children learn through their five senses. Materials are hands-on, allowing children to explore, investigate and research. They become actively engaged in their studies rather than being spoon-fed information.
- Montessori addresses different learning styles and helps children learn how to study.
- Montessori challenges children and sets high expectations. Children develop self-discipline and an internal sense of purpose and motivation.
Montessori children are typically engaged, and curious learners who look forward to going to school. They have a high level of self-confidence and independence, a lifelong love of learning, and feel close bonds with friends and teachers.
Why Evergreen for Elementary?
At Evergreen, the Elementary program is designed specifically for the developmental needs of children aged six to nine. Children in the Elementary program are the equivalent age of traditional first through third grade. Our Montessori elementary classroom, however, is very different—and has many important advantages—compared to traditional schooling.
One key difference at Evergreen is class size and student/teacher ratio. Children in the Elementary program at Evergreen benefit from a co-teacher model with two phenomenal teachers: Mrs. Hannon and Mrs. Hatziyannis. With our structure, children are exceptionally well known by their Evergreen teachers. In addition, the highly individualized Montessori approach ensures that children in Elementary are learning lessons perfectly matched to their level. Teachers individualize instruction to keep each child optimally challenged.
Academically, Elementary students are moving from the concrete world of their Primary years and developing the ability to think abstractly. They are able to ask deeper questions and seek connections. The elementary curriculum encourages and nurtures this natural curiosity through a sequence of foundational skills in language and math as well as basic core knowledge in the sciences and humanities. In addition, our elementary curriculum is global. World cultures and geography, art, history and more are woven throughout the fabric of the curriculum. In addition, students learn Spanish.
Teachers are guides, not lecturers. Children still benefit from active learning and hands-on experiences. In Elementary, our teachers lead simulations or virtual field trips in which students experience deeper learning through active participation. Children have choices and take ownership of their learning. There’s not a one-size-fits all curriculum that leaves some children bored and others frustrated. The classroom is full of materials instead of worksheets. Children solve problems and think, instead of memorize isolated facts with little context.
The mixed age classroom has academic and social benefits. First, children learn with and from each other. Older children model good work habits and produce exemplar work for the younger students to emulate. Second, instead of competing with each other, students grow into a community, and practice social skills every day. One reason why our Elementary classroom is so peaceful is because of the strong leadership of older children. They work with the teachers to set the tone in the class; they take responsibility to make sure everyone is treated with kindness. When conflict occurs, older children are well equipped to act as problem solvers and mediators—and teachers are nearby to guide or intervene as well. This kind of dynamic can’t happen in a single-graded class.
Finally, children benefit from a full outdoor recess every day. They have music, PE and art twice each week. Children who complete the three-year cycle in the Elementary class make easy transitions socially and academically to public and independent school fourth grade.
Ask any Evergreen student to find her heart, and she’ll immediately put a hand to her chest.
Our children seem to naturally know that the heart is the center of life and love.
It is the same way with our school. Ask any parent where to find the heart of Evergreen and consistently you’ll hear: it’s the teachers. Each teacher is guided by a passion for children, a passion for the Montessori philosophy, and a passion for the Evergreen community. While each brings his or her own unique personality to the classroom, each shares the same deep commitment to helping children develop confidence, independence and competency in a safe and loving atmosphere.
Day in and day out we seem the wisdom of Dr. Montessori’s methods in action. For a child to become strong and self-sufficient, he must engage in meaningful, challenging activities within his “zone of proximal development”—i.e., between what he can do with help and what he can do without. Knowing that a kind and supportive teacher is always nearby allows children to feel secure no matter the task at hand. And because our teachers know each student so well, the child’s work is always set to the right level of challenge.
I am grateful that the Evergreen community shares my appreciation for our teachers. Thanks to your generous support of the For’Ever Fund, two teachers were able to receive Montessori training and others were able to attend the American Montessori Society Annual Conference in Philadelphia this year. At the conference connected with other Montessori teachers from around the world, learned about the latest developments in education and renewed their commitment to the ideals of Dr. Montessori. Professional development is one of the most important ways that Evergreen has been able to maintain the strength of our program and remain the premier Montessori program in our area.
Supporting our exceptional faculty takes the commitment of our entire school community. I would like to sincerely thank you for your ongoing support. Thanks to our teachers’ work, Evergreen continues to make a difference in our children’s lives. I look forward to the year ahead.
We are so fortunate to be in a place of gratitude and love. Kindness is contagious. Here is what our Nest class is thankful for this season:
I am thankful for…
- Lucy: flowers
- Nico: My toys
- Iona: Penny the dog
- Patrick: My school
- Vivian: Music
- Alma: Kitties
- Clarke: My mommy
- Evelyn: My pet fish
- Leia: My family
- Margot: Ice cream
- Nathan: My music
- James: Jake, my cousin’s dog
- Maia: planting flowers with Mommy
- Joshua B: My cats
- Joshua C: My brother Connor
- Shanthi: Music
- Avram: My dad
- Noelle: my pet fish
- Chloe: Time with my family
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Much has been made of multi-tasking. It’s a busy world, we know. So the more you can do at once, the better off you are, right?
Take a moment (if you have one) to consider the power of concentration. In Montessori education, concentrated effort is essential. Once children have begun to concentrate they become completely transformed… calmer, more intelligent and more expansive.
In a Montessori classroom, children can pursue a single line of self-focused work. The goal is full absorption. When the work is absorbing, challenging and self-directed, young children engage in deep and sustained concentration.
Have a look at concentration in a classroom… can you imagine anything deeper?
Special thanks to Dr. Angeline Lilliard for her work on Montessori and Mindfulness.