Stories from Arlington families who chose Elementary Montessori

My girls stayed through 5th grade-I wish we had the middle school class back then. My oldest is a first year student in college and she says that she still draws on the Montessori method to help her solve problems and to always ask why. So yes, don't stop at PreK!- Val

More, directly from Annie, a Montessori Elementary parent:

As parents, we love when our children are truly engaged. We cheer for the two-year-old who reaches on tiptoes, pushes the button, and gets a first drink from the water fountain. We are reminded of concentration and timing required for a simple task. As parents, we step back, let it happen, and smile with pride. Most toddlers are given the opportunity to explore their world, follow their interests and achieve something new everyday. What happens when they get to elementary school?

If the child is lucky enough to be in an Elementary Montessori classroom, these opportunities keep coming. Elementary Montessori students are given freedom of movement, and have time to get focused on work and carry tasks to completion. Students are given responsibilities in the classroom community and manage their own time during a daily three-hour work block. Children complete a well-rounded, individualized work plan by the end of each week, and are encouraged to explore topics of interest. They smile with well-deserved pride in their effort.

How is Elementary Montessori different from traditional school?

An Elementary Montessori classroom is purposefully designed to meet each child’s unique developmental needs. Teachers are specifically trained to observe and put each child in touch with exactly what they need to learn. Elementary children are at a very social stage, and teachers encourage collaborative learning with group lessons and projects.

Students work in a multi-age classroom and are free to move around and chose tasks that interest them. Younger students learn from older children, who in turn benefit from serving as role models. Montessori classrooms are child-centered, not teacher-centered. Students work alone and in groups to cover the same material as other APS elementary students.

What does an Elementary Montessori classroom look like?

Students will recognize some of the same shapes and symbols used in the primary classroom. As they continue their Montessori education, children grow in their understanding and are grounded in the fundamentals. The room is a little noisier than the primary classroom, because elementary children are social and talkative.

A classroom visitor would see many different things going on at once: two children curled up with a book in the reading corner; several others are working on a poster for a class play, mats attended by a single child; a group working together at a table. The teacher might be conducting a lesson for three students, and the other students would ask the assistant if they need help during this time. A lot is being accomplished in this small space with amazing children and teachers.

Children who stay for Elementary Montessori are rewarded with a developmentally appropriate world to explore. They grow at their own pace in a multiage classroom community where they feel connected. They spend years in the same place with the same teachers. They leave their lower elementary and upper elementary classrooms with confidence and pride. As parents we think, "Yes, this is how I want my child to be treated. This is how I want my child to learn."