Goodwater Montessori Public Charter School

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What Is Montessori?

 

Montessori education was founded in 1907 by Italian physician Maria Montessori who based her educational methods on scientific observation of children’s learning processes. Dr. Montessori believed that, “we should not fill children with facts but rather cultivate their own natural desire to learn.” Guided by this discovery that children teach themselves, Dr. Montessori designed a “prepared environment” in which children freely choose from a number of developmentally-appropriate activities. Montessori education is:

 

Child-Centered

  • Mixed-age classrooms that allow students to have repeated exposure to lessons, as well as become leaders to the younger children in the class.
  • Child-centered education that is facilitated by a Montessori Guide who is consistently aware of the child’s academic progress and emotional development.

 

Collaborative

  • A collaborative approach to education emphasizing long work periods and group project work that reflects the work place, preparing children to be creative contributors to their communities.
  • Integrated lessons with high-quality, hands-on materials that help the child to understand the inter-connected nature of all subject areas.

 

Impactful

  • Research studies showing that Montessori children rank above average on criteria such as listening attentively, showing responsibility, asking incisive questions, and adapting to new situations.
 
Montessori schools teach the same basic skills as traditional schools, and offer a rigorous academic program. As a Texas public charter school, Goodwater will teach the State learning standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS, but do so using the Montessori Method and materials. Montessori classrooms encourage deep learning of the concepts behind academic skills rather than sole memorization of the curriculum. Most of the subject areas are familiar — such as math, science, history, geography, and language — but they are presented through an integrated approach that brings separate strands of the curriculum together.
 
While studying a map of Africa, for example, students may explore the art, history, and inventions of several African nations. This may lead them to examine ancient Egypt, including hieroglyphs and their place in the history of writing. The study of the pyramids, of course, is a natural bridge to geometry. The Montessori approach to curriculum shows the interrelatedness of all things. It also allows students to become thoroughly immersed in a topic—and to give their curiosity full rein.
 

An advantage of the Montessori approach — including multi-age classrooms with students of varying abilities and interests — is that it allows each child to work at their own pace. Students whose strengths and interests propel them to higher levels of learning can find intellectual challenge without being separated from their peers. The same is true for students who may need extra guidance and support: each can progress through the curriculum at his own comfortable pace, without feeling pressure to "catch up." We might note that from a Montessori perspective, every child is considered gifted, each in their own way. With unique strengths, skills, and talents, the Montessori child develops as their best self.

 

The distinctive arrangement of a Montessori classroom mirrors the Montessori method’s differences from traditional education. Rather than putting the teacher, or “guide,” at the focal point of the class, the classroom employs a child-centered approach. Children work at tables or on floor mats — individually or in small groups — and the guide circulates about the room, observing, giving lessons, and assisting students as needed.

 

On its website, the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector has several short videos that beautifully depict learning in the Montessori classroom. You can view them at http://www.public-montessori.org/what-public-montessori.