Question: What is Montessori?
The Montessori method is a child-centered approach to educating young children. It is based on the teachings of Maria Montessori, an extraordinary educator and the first female physician in Italy. Maria Montessori believed that it was the teacher’s role to cultivate the child’s natural desire to learn. In her book, The Absorbent Mind, she stated, “The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to age six. For that is the time when man’s intelligence itself, his greatest implement is being formed.” After years of observing and working with children, Maria Montessori found that children were captivated when given work to do with their hands; therefore, she believed that “the hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.” She devised classroom materials for children to use to learn the skills necessary for later success in school and life. These materials are just one of the unique aspects of a Montessori school. After observing a Montessori classroom in action, observers often ask, “How did the children know where to go and what to do? The answer is – they are self-directed. The Montessori environment is truly prepared with the child in mind. Maria Montessori was very aware of the needs of children and had great respect for their abilities. She observed that children thrived in an environment where they could choose which works to do and where everyone had respect for each other and the materials. The Montessori philosophy offers a wonderful balance of freedom and structure. The teacher prepares the environment and then acts as a guide to help the children explore all areas of the classroom as they are ready.
Question: Does Montessori Day School of Wellesley Hills offer any extended days?
Answer: Yes, we offer a lunch bunch program on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Children bring their lunch to school and are picked up at 1:30pm. There is also a martial arts school located on site that offers preschool classes on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Question: What are the qualifications of the staff?
Answer: Lead teachers are certified by the American Montessori Society. All teachers hold MA department of education teaching credentials and have studied early childhood development. Many teachers are certified Montessori assistants and hold advanced degrees in education or related fields.
Question: How early should I submit an application?
Answer: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Spaces fill up quickly so families should submit applications early.
Question: What is a typical day like at MDS?
Answer: The school doors are open by 8:30a.m each morning. Parents escort child(ren) to their classroom upon arrival at school. Children hang coats and backpacks on their individual hooks. Parents say goodbye as the child enters the classroom. He (or she) is greeted with a handshake and smile.
The following schedule gives you a general idea of our schedule each day. However, the times will vary depending on the activities planned.
8:45-9:15: Morning Circle Time: Stories are read until most of the children have arrived. Then we sing greeting songs and have a short business meeting in which we talk about the calendar, the weather, whose absent, etc. This time of day is very important for building a sense of community in our classroom.
9:15-11:00: Independent Work Period – Children may choose to work alone, with a partner, or with a small group of children during this time of day., doing works that interest them in all areas of the classroom. They have many activities from which to choose. In the art area, they can explore various mediums – watercolor, pastels, collage, clay, finger paint, etc. In practical life they learn every day skills such as pouring, spooning, table washing, and more. The sensorial area houses materials that engage the senses. The geography, math, and language areas offer traditional Montessori materials as well as new educational products that support the Montessori philosophy. The items found on the shelves change throughout the year depending on the thematic unit we are studying and in order to offer increasingly challenging works to the students. Teachers serve as guides and closely watch the development of each child so that they can guide them to their “next step” in each curriculum area. Teachers know how to set children up for success and help them feel confident so that they can find joy in trying new things. The staff encourages a growth mindset and “mistakes” are viewed as opportunities to learn. We desire for students to be adaptable to change, think creatively, and find internal satisfaction in their progress.
Snack Time: For the first few weeks of the year, group snack is served. The child who is helper for the day passes out the snack. We start with group snack in order to get to know one another and to allow time for grace and courtesy lessons to be presented. After children are comfortable in the classroom, individual snack will begin. At this time, children are encouraged to have snack when they are ready. They may have it alone or invite a friend to join them. Children take turns being the host or hostess for the week. During this time the student brings snacks in for the class and helps prepare it each morning. Heathy eating habits are encouraged and food allergies and sensitivities are taken very seriously. The whole class is educated about food allergies through age appropriate books and activities so that they will be supportive and compassionate of their classmates with special diets.
11:00-11:05 Transition Time
When a chime is sounded, the children prepare to come to circle. Children who are still working on a lengthy activity may leave it for the following day. If they are finished then the child returns it to the shelf and joins the teacher at circle.
11:05-11:30/11:40 Second Circle: This is a time when the teacher gives a few presentations that are appropriate for the whole group. It may involve a lesson on a traditional Montessori material, a grace and courtesy lesson, or an activity based on a current theme or study unit. Next, a story selected for that particular day is read. We have special Spanish and Music classes each week.
We play outside every day as long as weather permits. If it is too cold to safely be outside, we will do creative movement, walking the line activities, yoga, or group games.
*Outside enrichment programs are scheduled during the week with times and days depending on the availability of presenters.
We do deviate from the above schedule in order to take advantage of spontaneous learning opportunities, follow the children’s interests, and to allow for special presenters to come to our classroom.
Question: What types of enrichment activities are provided?
Answer: Art, Music, Creative Movement, Spanish, Yoga, Nature Study, Physical Education, Library, “Share a Smile” (our school’s community service club), and Gardening, Drama, and Cooking.
Question: What is the yearly schedule?
Answer: MDS follows the Wellesley Public School’s Calendar, with some exceptions. MDS sometimes offers a 2-4 week summer program as well. Summer themes are based on children’s literature and/or nature. Priority enrollment will be given to MDS students.
Question: What forms of communication are used to keep parents informed of school happenings?
Answer: The primary form of communication is a Montessori Day School of Wellesley Hills blog that allows access only to enrolled families. Regular updates are posted along with photos. Parents and teachers also communicate briefly at drop-off and pick-up but for more lengthy or private matters, they may communicate via phone or e-mail. The director and lead teachers meet with the parents in the spring and fall for parent conferences, and at additional times if needed. At the conferences, parents receive information about their child’s progress in each of the curriculum areas.