A Hallmark of a Montessori Education is a Curriculum that Emphasizes Independence

In many traditional schools, the learning model communicates the message: “Do what you are asked to do, when you are asked to do it.” Upon high school graduation a decade or so later, the children are expected to be successful, independent adults. Does that learning model truly prepare the child?

Independence, like every other aspect of life as an adult, is learned step by step, incrementally.  Each milestone of independence supports the successful development of the next milestone. 

In a Montessori school, children learn how to be self-directed. The lessons they choose to work on are the ones most appealing to them. Students are free to explore these activities at their own pace. Will they make mistakes? Of course, but that is the beauty of independence. Our children have the opportunity to learn in a relatively risk-free environment and to grow from their mistakes. 

The result is a child who feels supported and empowered to become a creative, independent adult. Enjoy the photos!


A Peek into Upper Elementary

The best part of my job is spending time in each of the classrooms. Whether I am covering for a teacher who is out, or I am invited in by the teacher to observe, or I am invited in by a child to celebrate their feeling of accomplishment on a work they are doing or a work they have finished; watching the philosophy in action is always awe inspiring for me.

Here is a peek into Upper Elementary:

The Upper Elementary classroom at FWM offers students in 4th and 5th grades a customized learning environment.   

What does a customized learning environment look like?

The UE program is designed to have a smaller class size with a 1:15 teacher-student ratio. This allows for countless opportunities for individualized attention to each student’s unique learning needs and encourages self-paced learning.

In Montessori, the Upper Elementary Classroom is an extension of the students’ own world. The emotional aspects of being an elementary aged student play a fundamental role in the child’s development and in their day to day time in school. 

We help our students understand how to work, how to fit in, and how to be part of a community in a positive and productive way. At this level, we do not avoid addressing difficulties or issues; instead, we work through them.  

Our community meetings are an example of this. Led by the students with an agenda chosen by the students and supervised by the classroom teacher, the whole class works together to solve problems and discuss issues as they arise in the classroom. Everyone has a voice in making the UE environment a better place to learn and grow together. 

The Montessori Upper Elementary program encourages students to have a strong sense of connection to all of humanity. Our students develop an appreciation of the contributions of their ancestors and of the diverse cultures and countries around the world. They are working to become well prepared to be contributing global citizens. Our goal is for each student to reach their fullest potential in all areas, so they can move forward with confidence in who they are and in their individual abilities.

Reminder: Monday, October 11th  NO SCHOOL

Please mark your calendars Thursday, October 28th — for Virtual Parent conferences. You will receive an email from your child’s teacher to sign up for conferences. 


A Good Read

Following the excitement of Curriculum Night, several parents asked if we might recommend some books or resources on Montessori.

Now that you have chosen Montessori for your child, broadening your understanding of the philosophy and approach will help you make informed decisions about your child’s education, and strengthen your role as a participant in it.

The American Montessori Society website offers free resources in this area in a section called: Reading Material on Montessori Education and Philosophy.  Please know that regardless of the date of publication, the articles in Montessori Life are fresh and pertinent to Montessori today.

If you are interested in adding to your Montessori reading list, here are some popular titles:

  • From Dr. Maria Montessori herself, The Child in the Family 
  • Marin Schmidt’s Understanding Montessori: A Guide for Parents
  • Paula Polk Lillard’s Montessori, A Modern Approach
  • Aline Wolf’s A Parents’ Guide to the Montessori Classroom and The World of the Child.

Getting into the Groove

It has been so nice to see all of the children feeling more “at home” in their classrooms. Even our youngest students are acclimating well. 

You may have heard the term “Normalization” as it refers to a child in a Montessori classroom.

What is Normalization?

Normalization “is the most important single result of our whole work.” ~Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, (Chapter 19)

Normalization is the term Maria Montessori used to describe children who are able to concentrate, choose work, and work productively in their Montessori classroom.

Montessori identified that children are normalized when they are able to exercise self-discipline and peace. As with all things developmental, each child’s journey to normalization happens on their own timetable.

We observe normalization happen in three stages. The first stage is when a child does something because they want to. We see this stage most often in our youngest students. As children mature, we see them do things that are asked of them. That is the second stage. In the third stage, the child does something because they know it is the right thing to do. These children not only know the what the rules are, they choose to follow the rules because they know it will bring peace and a sense of harmony to their environment.

Our classrooms are structured to guide the child through the stages of normalization naturally and gracefully.

Normalization cannot be rushed or forced. Each and every child is a unique individual with a unique timeline of development. The materials present learning challenges gradually and allow for repeated practice and a control of error – meaning they are self-correcting. This gives the child the opportunity to learn to develop focus and concentration.

The teacher in a Montessori classroom is a calm, caring presence who guides with positive redirection to help children acquire independence.

 Parents, thank you for your attendance at our Virtual Curriculum Nights.  It is always a pleasure for me to attend and listen as teachers celebrate their enthusiasm for their craft, offer inspiration as they share their knowledge of their programs, and share their genuine love for the children they work with everyday. We hope you enjoyed a peek into your child’s day. 

Staffing Updates 

Please  welcome Michelle Crumb to FWM’s After School Program. Michelle has over 12 years experience working with children. Her passion is early childhood education.

Please welcome Valdete Biba to Mrs. Wilson’s toddler classroom. Valdete is an experienced Montessori assistant teacher. She brings her passion for Montessori education to our toddler program. 


Why Montessori Matters

This week really reminded me why Montessori matters!

Only in a Montessori classroom will you hear the joyful noise that is found in a place where children feel safe and secure enough to learn things that truly matter to them.

Only in a Montessori classroom can you see children getting themselves organized and comfortable so they can get right down to the business of completing work, and that learning is enriched the by the friendships that formed as the week progressed.

It is magical to observe. 

Our students use materials that are self-correcting, so instead of the child waiting for the teacher to evaluate if something was done correctly, students can evaluate themselves if they did the work correctly and only call their teachers to their work when they need guidance. Imagine going to school every day and discovering in your Montessori classroom the “why” comes first! The “why” comes first because that is what makes learning matter.

Maria Montessori said, “Education cannot be effective unless it helps a child open himself up to life.” I am so proud that at FWM, we facilitate each child’s ability to open themselves up to life!

Staffing Update:

 

Please join me in welcoming Jessie Meder, our new student intern!

Jessie is an alum of Fraser Woods Montessori School- class of 2015. Jessie is a student at the University of New Haven pursuing a degree in Health Sciences with the intent to be a Health/Physical Education teacher. She will be working with Pam Pascarella, our PE teacher to gain meaningful, practical, work-related experience in her field of study. FWM is fortunate to have Jessie back as a member of the FWM community.

 

Curriculum Night:

Looking forward to Curriculum Night(s) Tuesday 9/21, Wednesday 9/22, and Thursday 9/23.

Please check the schedule and mark your calendar. Curriculum Nights are also posted on the calendar on MyFWM.


A Wonderful Return to School

Dear Families, 

As we complete our first (short) week of the 21-22 school year I want to take a brief moment to say thank you. Thank you for your patience as we work through any delays in the arrival and dismissal line, thank you for your support, and thank you for all you are doing at home to encourage and support the children to be ready for school each day. 

The children, especially our youngest students who are phasing in, have had such a remarkably smooth transition. I believe it is because all our students know that they have the unconditional support of their teachers, empowering them to ask questions when they are unsure, or to seek guidance when they feel they need it, further building their confidence and coping skills.  

With school in full swing next week, your children will likely be tired at the end of the day until they build up their stamina. You may want to consider bringing bedtime forward until they adjust. Sometimes parents see more tears at the beginning of the school year. This is fairly typical and may simply mean your child may need some extra attention and reassurance for a while. 

Below are a few reminders for a successful school year… 

Dress Code – For Middle School and Upper Elementary students, please review the dress code that is in the Parent Handbook. All parents are responsible for reading the Parent Handbook. 

COVID-19 Updates – We continue to follow the guidance coming from the State of CT, which remains an integral part of our FWM Healthy Initiatives.  We will continue to monitor local health metrics, review in-school data, and work closely with our school nurse and COVID-19 Coordinator to make appropriate, reasonable changes as we are permitted to do so in the future. 

I would also like to share with you why we believe Montessori is so valuable:

Maria Montessori created a curriculum we call the cultural curriculum. The cultural curriculum is grounded in the study of humanity, geography, and the interdependence of all living things. 

A Montessori education presents the world from “whole to part” which is an uncommon presentation. Typically, schools begin with the smallest aspect and try to expand as a child’s understanding grows. Dr. Montessori viewed the child as a piece of a greater whole and called upon us as educators to provide the children with BIG impressions about the world and human race in its entirety.

Children learn to recognize the basic needs of all people while learning to appreciate the diversity with which cultures around the world satisfy those human needs. 

Montessori children learn all they have in common with other people in the world, while at the same time, honoring individual differences. Dr. Montessori’s curriculum teaches basic human rights like freedom, dignity, safety, and equitable treatment for all. 

The classrooms are created on the principles of education and social justice. Montessori education fosters curiosity and respect for people across the continents, with an emphasis on the interconnectedness of all life.

The world of education has so much to gain from Maria Montessori’s unique view of the child and the classrooms we work to create for them. 

“…is no small undertaking, it involves the spiritual development of man, the enhancement of his value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to understand the times in which they live.” ~ Dr. Maria Montessori Education and Peace – Address in Copenhagen May 1937 

Please remember that I am always available to you. I sincerely welcome your conversation any time.

Warm regards,

Gina


Happy Summer!

Now that the end of the school year is here and I take a moment to reflect on all that we have accomplished over the last nine months, I am humbled by all we achieved.  Our community came together, protected each other, and flourished. For our children, our teachers, and our families, this has been a year of triumph, a year of success, and a year of growth. Our students were adaptable, responsible, and absolutely overjoyed to be together at school every day.

This time of year is certainly a happy time. The weather becomes more pleasant and we are all able to enjoy some time relaxing without being tied to the strict schedule of school, sports, dance, music lessons, scouts, etc.

As my first year as interim head of school comes to a close, I would like to thank all of you for your support, feedback and encouragement throughout this year. I look forward to next year and all of the promise and excitement a new school year brings. I am grateful for your dedication to FWM.

 Here is some information for you as the school year ends:

  • FWM teachers will send Summer Learning Resources and a Suggested Summer Reading List to all families next week.
  • Please encourage your children to read over the summer. Summer vacation allows us to relax, but is also a critical time to ensure students keep learning.
  • New school year instructions and supplies lists will be emailed to families in August. 

Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy, and fun-filled summer!

Stay safe, 

Gina


Approaching the End of the School Year

Another school year is quickly coming to an end. For those of you with children in toddler, primary and elementary, I’m sure you’re amazed at how your children have blossomed as the year has gone by. We share both joy and tears as our elder Montessori students move to the next level. 

As Montessori teachers we stay true to our traditions of celebrating the community and bringing closure to the school year by honoring the students’ achievements with recognition of the time spent in their current level.

For the parents of our graduating 8th years, you are probably filled with mixed emotions of joy and bittersweet sentiment as your child prepares to leave FWM and move on to high school. 

When I talk to parents, I often hear them say how quickly time “flies” and how it seems “just like yesterday” their children began their educational journey.  

With 8th year graduation, moving up, and bridge-crossing ceremonies planned for the week ahead, our students, their parents, and their teachers have much to celebrate!

I hope you spend time this long weekend celebrating your child and family. Please take a moment this Memorial Day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. 

Virtual Art Show

We are thrilled to present FWM’s second Virtual Art Show! We invite and encourage you all to click through each of the icons in the gallery to see the beautiful creations done by the children. At the end of the virtual art show, please continue through the slide show to see photos of our young artists at work!