When the goal of education is efficiency, it is important to teach to one standard and keep every child on track. Assembly lines are a perfect example of efficiency for business—they may bore the workers, and the products may be of questionable quality, but the process is efficient. Multi-age classrooms are the antithesis of this business model of efficiency.
In a multi-age classroom, teachers must know every individual, understand each individual’s developmental level through a variety of continual assessment processes, and have tools available to challenge each individual at an appropriate level. To manage this environment successfully, ratios need to be small enough to individualize instruction. When all the requisite pieces are in place, multi-age classrooms run beautifully, and children learn to learn from each other. Older children assist younger children and model behaviors that younger children can aspire to. Younger children enjoy positive attention from older peers, and learning is engaging for everyone. As this process moves forward in a thoughtfully prepared environment, teachers are able provide ample assistance as needed. They can challenge advanced learners and provide accommodations for those who may be struggling. As a result, the classroom is a safe and comfortable environment that supports a community of learners.
The goal for a multi-age classroom is not to produce an efficient product; rather, it is an effective, engaging, intriguing, and growth-promoting process. Children’s progress is not monitored by a single assessment; it is gauged by an array of assessments designed and adjusted to meet individuals’ developmental needs. In other words, children experience a sense of achievement no matter how quickly they grasp a concept. They are nudged, not pushed or restricted, as teachers present state core standards through a variety of activities and learning tools.
With the arrival of 2010, I’m ready to jump into cyberspace with some of my thoughts about early childhood education and our mission at Dancing Moose Montessori School. I’ve discovered that many families have been attracted Dancing Moose because they have heard good things from one of our enrolled families, they have noted our award for Best of State, or they simply found us under private school listings on the Internet. We are delighted to have interested families come to Dancing Moose for any reason, but we are most proud of our Montessori academic program that individualizes educational development for each child while maintaining adherence to state and national core standards for early childhood education.
I would like to utilize this opportunity to blog about some Montessori goals and achievements and report about academic projects that are helping our children excel in all areas of development: social, emotional, academic, and physical.
In order to achieve our goals, it is essential to provide a safe and welcoming environment. To facilitate this environment, we have installed a state-of-the-art security system from Stone Security. This system includes two monitors at the front of the school, which allow parents to see their children in action in any part of the school and/ or playground. Parents often watch their child adjusting to the class from the camera at drop-off or just prior to pick-up. Sometimes parents stop by at lunchtime to view their child interacting in the classroom. Our secured facility requires a finger print recognition and code for entry. We also sponsor DigiKids safety system that maintains children’s personal information electronically for parents and school personnel in case of a possible emergency.
We also have incredible menu items that Chef Rene prepares each day in our well-equipped kitchen. Healthy meals coupled with daily gym time that includes Karate, free movement, and Yoga are all features of our commitment to healthy physical development.
Academics are complex and continually evolving, and I will devote most of my attention on this blog to the amazing talents of dedicated teachers who are committed to helping children develop intellectually. I hope that any of you who visit this blog site will learn more about why the commitment to educating the whole child is essential to quality early childhood education.