The Montessori Method

Education for Life

The essential purpose of a Montessori education is to offer each child an environment in which he can develop the skills and habits he needs for a lifetime of learning and happiness.

Dr. Montessori (1870-1952), the first woman physician in Italy and a pioneer in early education, recognized the critical importance of childhood learning. She spent many decades creating “The Montessori Method”, an integrated program tailored to meet the developmental needs of young children.

At age two or three, a child is at the beginning of his intellectual and personal journey. What he does or does not do during the next four to six years will substantially shape his future: unbeknownst to him, his early experiences, observations, thoughts and choices will crystallize into a characteristic way of thinking and a formed personal identity. During his preschool years, he will habituate certain methods of using his mind, draw certain bedrock judgments about the world and himself, and as a result form his basic personal character.

The Montessori Method provides the crucial framework a child needs to make the most of his precious early years. It enables him to develop motor and social skills; to learn handwriting, reading and basic numeracy; and to grow into a capable, confident young person eager to explore the fascinating world around him.

The most important part of life is not the age of university studies, but … the period of birth to the age of six. For that is the time when a man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement, is being formed.”

Dr. Maria Montessori

How We Teach

Self-Education in a Prepared Environment

montessori preschool huntington beachThe “prepared environment.” Our classrooms are large, open spaces, framed by low open shelves which display a variety of educational materials or “works” from which a child can choose freely. The attractive materials—made from brightly painted wood, ceramic, metal, or glass—are specially designed to be “self-correcting” and lend themselves to repeated practice. A child using them can independently gauge his own performance, without needing constant feedback from a teacher, and so learning becomes a natural, self-reinforcing process. Classroom furniture is child-sized and can easily be moved about by the children, who thereby learn to adapt the classroom space to many different uses.

The Montessori “directress.” Our teachers guide their students’ exploration of the enticing prepared environment. Each teacher has trained herself to observe carefully, identify a child’s needs and personality traits, and then use that knowledge to encourage the child to investigate developmentally appropriate activities. The teacher provides her student with language to name what he learns. She models social skills, so that children learn to interact with grace and courtesy towards each other and adults. In a warm, nurturing way, she provides the limits and guidance within which the child is then encouraged to freely explore.

montessori preschool huntington beachThe “demonstration.” Instruction in our primary classrooms is one-on-one, or in small groups. The teacher first introduces an activity that is at the right level of difficulty, i.e. that is challenging but achievable within the range of the child’s abilities. She presents the activity while seated next to the child, moving her hands slowly and precisely so that he can observe her actions. She then has the child repeat the activity. Once the child has been shown how to do an activity in this way, he is thereafter free to choose it at any time and work with it for as long as he likes. As he repeats the activity over time, he acquires mastery of both the motor skills involved, and of the abstract concept—such as length, or color—manifested by the material.

The “work period.” Our full day program has two extended work periods, a 3-hour morning work period and a 2 hour afternoon work period. During these times, children choose their “works” from the shelves, and carry them to a work space they select – a low table, or a mat they roll out on the floor. Each child works independently (or, occasionally, with one or two freely chosen partners) with the material for as long as he is interested. Once he completes his work, he returns it to its proper location, and is free to select another work, or take a break, maybe have a snack, and then select his next activity. The classroom is structured, but unlike traditional setups the structure recognizes the child’s need to develop his capacity to make independent choices.

What We Teach

Thinking and Life Skills = Independence and Self-Esteem

montessori preschool daycareConcentration skills and an active mind. Learning, in Montessori, is not an adult-led process of transmitting knowledge, but rather a process whereby the child teaches himself (with the adult functioning as a guide). The first skill a child needs to acquire is an ability to sustain attention, to concentrate. By offering him activities which he naturally finds interesting, and which lend themselves to repetition which the child enjoys, he learns to focus his mind – and to appreciate his developing ability to solve problems all by himself.

Independence and self-esteem. A toddler or young preschooler will spend a lot of time with “practical life exercises”, which help her develop the ability to take care of her own needs, and to care for her environment – to dress and undress, to prepare foods, to pour water. Our materials are designed – and the teachers trained – to help the child learn how to break down the required actions, to perform them step-by-step, and to do them repeatedly. For example, the “dressing frames” isolate the skill of buttoning with an attractive material; our children enjoy buttoning and unbuttoning, over and over, until they master the skill.

As he acquires skills, the child experiences the pride of independence. At an age during which he might otherwise throw tantrums over wanting to “do it all by myself”, but not be able to accomplish the desired task, he instead learns to do it – all by himself. By perceiving himself as a capable, efficacious person, he acquires real self-esteem – and comes to regard effort as a positive; he becomes an eager learner who seeks out new challenges (which of course he finds in abundance in our classrooms.) In this way the classroom setup perpetuates both the child’s intellectual growth and the accompanying self-confidence.

montessori preschool daycareMature social skills. In Montessori classrooms, children are taught to respect each other and to act with “grace and courtesy” – to walk around another child’s mat, to avoid interrupting when others are speaking, to say “please” and “thank you.” Like everything else in the classroom, social interactions are voluntary (within reasonable bounds) – children choose whether to work alone or together, whether and when to share. Under the expert guidance of the teacher, a Montessori classroom becomes a benevolent and civilized social environment, where children appreciate each other; quarreling over toys, fighting and bullying typically do not happen in a Montessori school – and if they ever do occur, the teachers provide careful guidance meant to teach the children how to address such situations amicably in the future.

Academic skills – writing, reading and arithmetic. Somewhat older children – from about 3 ½ – 4 years – learn handwriting and reading by a similar, carefully sequenced process. For instance, children use sandpaper letters and sound games to associate sounds with alphabetic symbols. They naturally develop a sense of quantity by encountering numbers everywhere in their environment – counting snack items, arranging rods by length – and then explore a wide range of math materials to further develop their skills.

By the time our children graduate from their third year in our primary class, they have usually acquired the ability to read full books (not just phonetic three-letter-words); they can handwrite sentences; they know addition, subtraction, division and multiplication into the thousands – and are more than prepared for the most challenging elementary curriculum.

Who We Are

Montessori-Trained Expert Teachers Who Genuinely Love Their Students

At LePort, we understand that to offer an authentic, high-quality Montessori environment, we need to invest in the best Montessori teachers, and support them in the classroom.

Each of our classes is led by a fully-trained Montessori Guide (teacher), who has completed a rigorous training program through a nationally-recognized training organization. Our typical teacher is talented, warm, caring, positive, and passionate about their work. Each classroom is supported by an Assistant Teacher, who has completed 12 Early Childhood Education Units, and whom we train to meet our unique standards. Many of our Assistants fall in love with Montessori and pursue further training; some become certified Guides themselves.

To ensure consistent, high-quality instruction and learning, LePort has an in-house education team that supports our teachers both at the classroom level through observations and consultations, and also by way of customized professional development workshops and trainings. In addition, teachers are given opportunities to attend conferences where they learn about the latest research and best educational and Montessori practices. They then bring this further training back to their work in our schools and with their students.

What We Deliver

A Well-Rounded Education For Life = Terrific Young People

montessori preschoolAt LePort Schools, our goals is to equip children in their whole being for the adventure of life. From the toddler program through junior high, we strive to arm them with the knowledge, thinking and life skills they need to succeed and thrive. This process begins with our Montessori preschool program. This program enables your child to “build herself”, to develop her personality and to acquire important cognitive skills, to learn how to learn—and to enjoy discovering the wondrous world around her.

montessori preschoolA LePort Montessori a student learns many specific skills—see the table below—but more importantly, she acquires the general, underlying conviction that she lives in an orderly universe and that she can understand and succeed if she tries. She learns the value of being observant and exerting effort, the skills of interacting well with other people, the importance of carefully identifying and naming the objects she encounters, the joy of writing and reading, and the fascinating nature and practicality of math. While at LePort, your child takes the first crucial steps on the road to becoming an independent, self-sustaining, life-loving adult.

From ‘terrible two’ to ‘terrific two’: We started our 2yr old daughter at LePort in July 2009 and I truly cannot believe what a difference a school can make! LePort has taken a ‘terrible two’ and with the proper guidance and caring turned her into a ‘terrific two’! Within a short time at LePort, our daughter’s vocabulary excelled to complete full understandable sentences, she can count to 10, and knows and sings more songs than I know the words to! Last but not least, they had her potty trained within just a few weeks! Besides seeing my 2 year old transition from a typical toddler, to a respectful and helpful little lady, LePort just feels like home for our family. The staff is extremely helpful and always takes the time to listen to your comments or concerns. Most importantly they truly care about the students, and my daughter just loves going to school every day!

LePort ParentGreatschools.net

Examples of what our typical 6-year-old can do after 3 years at LePort
(i.e., at the end of Kindergarten)

Social, motor & practical life skills 
  • Has acquired strong social skills – can interact gracefully with other children and adults; uses language to communicate her needs and feeling; is able to form friendships with her peers
  • Can pour liquids from heavy containers, prepare basic foods (e.g., peeling carrots, cutting fruit), set & clean up a table without help
  • Has mastered the 3-finger pencil grip
  • Can use scissors to cut lines and curved shapes
Cognitive skills & executive functioning
  • Has learned to focus his attention for 30-60 minutes on one task; to work largely independently for 2-3 hours at a time
  • Is able to complete a complex, multi-step task from beginning to end (e.g., wash a table)
  • Is able to self-monitor and control his impulses (e.g., wait his turn without getting upset when a work is being used by another child)
Language Arts 
  • Read aloud a typical children’s book – e.g., “Bear Snores On” by Karma Wilson, “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss, or Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
  • Writes complete sentences and short paragraphs in cursive handwriting
Mathematics 
  • Count as far as she wants – to 1,000 and beyond
  • Understand place value (the decimal system)
  • Do addition and subtraction into the 1,000’s (without and with carrying)
  • Skip-count to 100 by 2’s, 3’s, 4’s and 5’s
  • Multiply a multi-digit number by a single-digit number
  • Divide a multi-digit number by a single-digit number
  • Understand and write fractions, order them, add and subtract fractions with the same denominator
  • Know the names of geometric shapes and of three-dimensional objects
Cultural Studies
  • Know the names of the continents and can place them on a map; knows the names of the major countries in several continents, and the names of most US states
  • Has a basic scientific vocabulary – e.g., knows the names of all key plant parts, from roots to leaves to flowers; knows the names of key land & water forms and can identify & describe them

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