Dancing Moose has been delighted to conduct several tours in the last few weeks for individuals who are looking for a quality early childhood classroom for next fall. One of the first questions that tour guides answer has to do with what exactly Montessori means. Our guides quickly respond that it doesn’t mean exactly the same thing at every Montessori School, but it should certainly mean that a school with the Montessori name adheres to the basic principles and philosophy of child-centered education the Maria Montessori advocated a hundred years ago.
Dancing Moose does not seek out every detail of instruction exactly as it applied a hundred years ago. To do so would ignore the many brilliant educational scholars who have researched and practiced education during this century. Nevertheless, the insightful methods, materials, and prepared environment that Maria Montessori advocated are just as essential today as they were a century ago. It is critical that a Montessori classroom is a calm and peaceful place where children are honored by their teachers and peers. It is a place where they are heard and acknowledged; a place where they have some choices in how much time and concentration they will devote to a selected activity. The teacher is certainly the guide and facilitator; and at Dancing Moose, core academic standards are presented regularly to small groups of students as well as individual students. Yet children are never herded along by a teacher and expected to complete each activity at the same time and pace as every other child in the class. Appealing to children’s interests and abilities is the central focus of the Montessori teacher.
Dancing Moose is devoted to the whole child as the curriculum focuses on academics, movement, healthy food, and ample opportunities for social and emotional development. Not only is each classroom a prepared Montessori environment, but the entire school is committed to appealing to the myriad of needs and interests that each child brings to the classroom. Cultural and society are ever changing, which indicates a need for a dynamic curriculum that remains current with best practices. Maria Montessori exemplified this process of research and the scientific method wherein hypotheses are proven or negated. She identified powerful principles of effective teaching and learning, and these are the same core concepts of Montessori curriculum, which must also incorporate current best practices and research. Dancing Moose is delighted to bear the Montessori name and adhere to the admirable principles developed by Maria Montessori in the 1900s; it is also proud to incorporate research and practices of contemporary scholars.